We had prosecco in the piazza Sunday evening. A weekly ritual when locals from around the area come to Cortona to have a “cup or a glass” in the square and to see friends. Cortona is “prettier than the other towns,” so it is the gathering place. Young kids kick a soccer ball against the stone wall flanking one side of Piazza Signorelli, bustling with chatting and gesturing and smiling. Enzo, Mirella and I are aiming for the gelataria, but we see Massimo and another friend having a glass so we join them. Gelato will have to wait. Salute! Enzo introduces me, as always, as a “writer.” What am I writing? “Under the Ossaia Sun” they joke. I try to explain that I’m a professor writing research, but my Italian falters and we all laugh instead about me being Frances Mayes 2. Then we talk about food and how to make Tuscan ribollita, and we laugh about the fact that Massimo’s son (nephew? son-in-law?) just got a bunch of chickens and they are overrunning his house. We leave as the sun is settling into the horizon.
Tonight, I sip wine made in the hills of Cortona while watching the sunset. I’m basking in my evening walk with Mirella and Pinzi, the dog, on the same pathway I ran this morning, but with a few different turns, and this time as the sun is going down instead of coming up. Mirella shows me a “magical” place that is “just for us” – a house in the hillside that is currently vacant of humans but overflowing with wisteria canopies. Where the bees swarm and the honey scent envelops and it really does feel like a slice of paradise carved out just for us. Mirella points out lavender and thyme in the overgrown pathway and I explain that the English name for the yellow flowers smiling back at us is buttercup, and then sing a few lines from “Build Me Up Buttercup.”
To quote the real Frances Mayes: “I began to notice, here at Bramasole, that my skin fits perfectly over my body.”